How To Correct "Snaking" In Your Swimming Stroke
Updated: Feb 14
Snaking is when your body jackknifes to each side at the hips going out of alignment with your legs with each alternate stroke. It can be caused by swimming too flat in the water (not rotating) and by a stiff, wide arm recovery flinging your body out of a straight alignment or by simply crossing the centerline of your body when entering the hand in the water.
To fix the problem try rotating your torso with each stroke. Visualize pointing your belly button to each side of the pool with each stroke, like rocking a boat from side to side. Here are a few drills to work on rotation. I suggest using fins as well so you don't have to worry about sinking while getting these right. You can also try these Finis hip rotation aides to put you in the right rhythm.
Start with kicking 6-12 beats on each side, then switching. Place your ear relaxed on your arm...
...once that is mastered you can add 3 strokes in between and a slow relaxed arm recovery
Another thing to try is relaxing your shoulders and forearms during the recovery phase (when your arms are out of the water) of the stroke. This will prevent your body being thrown out of alignment by a tense arm swinging across your body. These two drills lift your elbow and even shaking your hands at the wrist during recovery can help you stay loose.
By relaxing your arms during the recovery phase, entering your arms in the water in alignment and rotating around a straight axis you can eliminate "snaking" and reduce your friction in the water.
Some snaking is caused simply by placing your hand to far across your body when they enter the water. You don't want to "follow" your body rotation across the centreline of your body. Coach Tim Lloyd suggests holding a PVC tube like in the following video. Or, you can do catch up drill in-line with the shoulders (at 1 and 11 o'clock) .
It might also help to use a swimming snorkel to focus on hand entry and rotation and quiet your head movement.
Want to make sure you're doing these drills correctly? For an online video assessment of your swim stroke click here.